As lightning passes through the air it heats the air quickly. This causes the air to expand rapidly and creates the sound wave we hear as thunder. Normally, you can hear thunder about 20 Km from a lightning strike.
Canadian Lightning Facts
Environment Canada keeps an updated Canadian Lightning Danger Map (CLDM) on their website that highlights areas that are at the greatest risk of being struck by lightning in the next 10 minutes. (It is based on strikes that have been recorded in the last 20 minutes.) The red areas on the map indicate that lightning is striking there and you are in immediate danger if outdoors.
Lightning-related deaths and injuries have dropped by 80% over the last 75 years. This is partly due to increased lightning safety awareness efforts by partnering organizations like the American NOAA, National Weather Service, the Insurance Information Institute, the Lightning Safety Alliance, the Lightning Protection Institute and Environment Canada.
Where, When and How Often Does Lightning Strike?
Average number of thunderstorms on Earth at any given moment: 1,800
Number of times lightning hits the Earth per second: 100
The Foothills and Eastern slopes of Southern Alberta are among the most lightning prone areas in Canada, with a half-million strikes annually.
The Damage Lightning Can Cause
Lightning can occur during any time of the year, but lightning casualties are highest during summer. July is generally the month with the most lightning in Alberta. Lightning strikes often occur in the afternoon and two-thirds of all lightning casualties occur between 12-6pm.
Males are five times more likely than females to be struck by lightning; around 85% of lightning fatalities are men.
People aged 15–34 years account for almost half of all lightning strike victims (41%).
About one-third (32%) of lightning injuries occur indoors.
Environment Canada reports that Lightning strikes injure or kill up to 175 people a year in Canada.
It is also conservatively estimated that annual lightning damage and disruption costs in our country range from $600 million to $1 billion every year; almost 6000 insurance claims are predicted to be filed for lightning-related property damage.
Lightning-ignited wildfires cost fire-fighting agencies hundreds of millions of dollars each summer.
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